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Legacy Home > Directors > Biographies

Leona Troxell

Mrs. Leona Anderson Troxell Dodd became the 12th administrator of the Employment Security Division when she was appointed by Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in January 1969. She served until January 1971. Troxell was the first and only woman in Arkansas history appointed as director of the Arkansas Employment Security Division, joining the ranks of three other female ESD Administrators in Vermont, Tennessee, and Washington.

Director Troxell was a native of Johnston, New York. She attended and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Drake University, receiving her Bachelor's degree in French, in 1934, and her Master's in French in 1938. She eventually served as Dean of Women at Drake University, and taught French and Spanish, from 1935-1940. She enjoyed an extensive stint in war service as the Service Club director at Camp Dodge, Iowa; as an American Red Cross recreation worker at Burns General Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and as Arts and Crafts director of the Army's European theatre.

Troxell was successful in doing what many thought was impossible in the state of Arkansas-breathing life into a statewide Republican party. Governor Rockefeller appointed her Chair of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, where she served for two years. She would also serve on the National Federation of Republican Women.

Governor Winthrop Rockefeller was the first Republican to be elected as governor of Arkansas since Reconstruction. Rockefeller came to Arkansas in 1953 to visit an old army buddy and saw an opportunity to carve out a niche for himself. He purchased 900 acres atop Petit Jean Mountain and established Winrock Farms, soon one of the most prosperous agricultural enterprises in the state.

Rockefeller's political ascension is said to have began in earnest, when, in 1954, Orval Faubus appointed him as head of the new Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (AIDC), which was created to attract manufacturing industries to Arkansas. The future governor undertook the task with great vigor, often supplementing the AIDC's budget with his own funds. He has been described as an "atypical" southern Republican, and more socially progressive than most Arkansas governors of his time.